Colorado man plots return of Studebaker

Could the Lark fly again? It will if a Colorado man has his way.

Ric Reed owns the Studebaker Motor Company, a 21st Century iteration of the American automobile manufacturer that went out of business in 1967.

The Denver-area entrepreneur bought out the rights to the company’s name from a former partner, Tom Raines, who acquired them in 2001. Now he’s looking for partners to help him put it back on the road. Reed’s goal is to build a lineup of modern, hybrid vehicles using the names of classic Studebaker models like Lark, President and Hawk.

Reed tells that he currently has about two dozen people working with him part time for $1 per year, with a couple of particularly eager beavers taking home $2. Several members of the Studebaker family are said to be on board.

A former artillery officer in the Army who now runs the Arvada, Colorado-based Big Kahuna Trading Company apparel outfit, Reed claims to be in talks with several investors and a number of entities working on automotive technology that could be incorporated in his cars.

One of them is Tom Kasmer, the inventor of a novel device called the Hydristor that was being developed for a new sports car planned by John DeLorean at the time of his death.  Essentially a hydraulic transistor, Kasmer says it works like an extremely efficient continuously variable transmission that multiplies and modulates engine output going to the wheels.

Reed wants to go hybrid because he thinks it will be a long time before electric cars are truly viable in the marketplace. A somewhat ironic position considering Studebaker’s first car was battery-powered.

His company’s website has renderings of several design proposals, but Reed says new ones are in the works that better capture the essence of classic Studebakers. In the meantime, he is considering entering a joint venture with an unnamed company to build a conventional retro-modern take on a Studebaker pickup truck, like the Champ, in order to raise interest in the brand and generate capital to develop the more modern cars. He figures they could sell 3,000 of them for around $70,000 a pop.

Reed has been pursuing his dream for about a decade now and says he’s in it for the long haul, hoping to create jobs in America. Where they will be depends on what form the company ultimately takes, but he would like to set up shop in a right-to-work state, like Studebaker’s ancestral home, Indiana, just became.

Perhaps one day the Lark will indeed return to its nest.

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